San Beda opens title defense against CJ Perez-less Lyceum
As if dethroning a full-strength San Beda team isn’t already a tough challenge in itself, Lyceum was left with a steeper mountain to climb even before Game 1 of the NCAA Season 94 best-of-three finals series tips off at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Tuesday.
After their appeal was denied, the Pirates will miss star forward CJ Perez in Game 1, set at 4 p.m., due to suspension, handing the Red Lions a clear advantage in a series that is expected to go down the wire.
The sweet-shooting forward violated an NCAA rule that requires players to seek permission from the league when they formally apply for the PBA Draft.
Perez applied for the Draft on Oct. 26, the deadline for Fiipino-foreigner hopefuls.
A ranking NCAA official said the Management Committee suspended Perez over the weekend.
“It’s a simple rule and the sanction was already there with the rules,” said the official who refused to be identified for lack of authority to speak on the matter.
“It’s a no-brainer. He didn’t ask permission from the NCAA.”
It’s not the first time that the league handed punishment to players due to the same infraction. San Sebastian College’s Leo Najorda was also suspended in 2005 just like San Beda’s Yousif Aljamal in 2007.
Lyceum coach Topex Robinson refused to dwell on the case of Perez, saying that he’d rather focus on things he can control.
“I’m here to win a championship and I’ll focus my 100 percent tomorrow,” said Robinson, whose Pirates got swept by the Lions in last year’s finals.
“It’s a blessing to be in the finals. We’re not really thinking about payback or revenge, but just really setting the stage to inspire a lot of people. It’s never going to change for us. We just really want to cherish the experience.”
Coach Boyet Fernandez feels the burden of expectations as the Lions gun for an 11th title in 13 seasons.
“Of course, we want to keep the winning tradition of San Beda,” said Fernandez.
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